By Maggie Fremont
November 12, 2018 at 11:40 PM EST
Dancing With the Stars Alexis Ren and Alan BerstenCredit: ABC
Credit: ABC

It’s hard to believe that we’re just one week away from announcing the season 27 champions. But we’re here! Welcome to the DWTS semi-finals. This season has been all over the place voting-wise, but for the most part, the dancing has been outstanding. Tonight is no different!

Our remaining six couples have two routines to help them reach mirror ball glory: First, they’ll dance a new style and dedicate their routine to someone special. Then there’s the Judges’ Choice round in which one of our judges will choose a style the couple can improve upon and help them out in rehearsals. The entire evening is one big emotional roller coaster, so buckle up…and maybe pack some tissues.

Bobby Bones and Sharna Burgess
Salsa, “GDFR” by Flo Rida
Oh, kids, it is truly “going down for real” as Flo Rida says. Bobby dedicates his salsa to everyone who has gotten him this far on the show. Sharna has him watch a video of those people cheering Bobby on and naturally, the guy breaks down in tears. But there are no tears when Bobby jumps out on the dance floor flocked by six gorgeous professional dancers. All three of the judges note that it’s not really a traditional salsa…or any type of salsa, really (I mean, with the crowd out on the ballroom floor, you can barely see his feet). But to answer Maximus Decimus Meridius, yes, they are entertained.
Judges’ Score: 21/30

Alexis Ren and Alan Bersten
Waltz, “Water” by Bishop Briggs
Well, we all saw this coming, no? Alexis dedicates her dance this week to Alan. He’s helped her grow and open her heart and fine, we all get it. She wants to make it into the finals and win the mirror ball as a thank you to Alan. It’s definitely a possibility. But I’m with Len — this waltz needed less rain and more waltz! And this is coming from a pro-rain-while-dancing person. Aside from lack of style content and one major lift, the dance is elegant and fluid, and Carrie Ann notes an added maturity to Alexis’s movement. Ultimately though, there’s a lot of critiquing going on for what turns out to be great scores.
Judges’ Score: 28/30

Joe Amabile and Jenna Johnson
Contemporary, “This Year’s Love” by David Gray
Joe plans on dedicating his dance to the three most important women in his life: His mom, his grandmother, and Kendall. Once Joe gets a look at Jenna’s, uh “intimate” choreography for this contemporary routine, Joe amends his previous statement: The evening is dedicated to his mom and grandmother, the dance is for Kendall. It’s a good choice because the routine is very romantic. Joe has never looked like a better, stronger partner for Jenna than he does here. Carrie Ann notices and she’s “impressed.” The guys? Not so much. Both Len and Bruno thought Joe just stood there while Jenna danced around. At least he got one judge on his side?
Judges’ Score: 22/30

Juan Pablo Di Pace and Cheryl Burke
Argentine tango, “Libertango” from Forever Tango
The majority of my notes from Juan Pablo’s portion of this round were just me screaming. First, in his rehearsals, he dedicates this to his mom, a warrior queen and breast cancer survivor. She shows up at the studio and it’s wonderful. Moms, you guys! BUT THEN: Juan Pablo and Cheryl perform and we’re all given new reasons to keep living. IT’S THAT GOOD. That final gancho sequence Bruno calls out? I had to stand up part way through it because I couldn’t contain myself. (I don’t get out much.) Len tells the pair that he’ll always remember that Argentine tango and like, aw, Len. He’s a softy at heart. Bruno and Carrie Ann agree: It’s one of the best routines they’ve ever seen on this show.
Judges’ Score: 30/30

Evanna Lynch and Keo Motsepe
Contemporary, “Stand Up for Something” by Andra Day
WHAT IS HAPPENING TONIGHT? Just when you think no one can follow up Juan Pablo and Cheryl’s incredible routine, Evanna tells this gorgeous story about her late friend and director Simon Fitzmaurice, who in the face of ALS taught Evanna to “be as bold and vibrant as you can.” And so she is! This contemporary is a celebration of life, and Evanna has never looked so strong — and she and Keo have never had so much chemistry! The perfect score the pair gets isn’t a surprise, but then Erin starts thanking Evanna for helping Keo get the furthest he ever has on this show and KEO BREAKS OUT INTO TEARS. And so do I! KEO! These semi-finals are exhausting, emotionally speaking.
Judges’ Score: 30/30

Milo Manheim and Witney Carson
Argentine tango, “Pray for Me” by The Weeknd and Kendrick Lamar
Give it up for Camryn Manheim, Milo’s mom (and very famous actress, duh), who after being told her son would be dedicating his dance to her because of how much he appreciates and loves her, responds: “Now, get into a good college.” Priorities, people! Milo has a tough road: He’s also performing an Argentine tango. He and Witney are great, but, like, come on. Carrie Ann praises his presence and shaping. Bruno applauds the lifts (seriously, they were great). And Len acknowledges how hard doing this routine in our post-Juan Pablo world must be, but appreciates Milo staying true to himself. It’s weird that three nines feel like a letdown, but that’s the semi-finals for ya.
Judges’ Score: 27/30

(Next: It’s the Judges’ Choice)


Bobby Bones and Sharna Burgess
Jive, “Gimme Some Lovin’” by The Spencer Davis Group
You may recall Bobby’s week one jive being a bit, um, hectic? Well, Len’s in town to help Bobby learn some control and finesse, even while kicking and flicking his heart out. You guys, Len starts grooving in rehearsal and I am IN LOVE. He does his best with Bobby, but the guy still comes out a bit frantic. Still, Bobby plays to his strengths. And by that I mean, he has Len’s face projected on the dance floor and ends the routine by ripping open his shirt to reveal a t-shirt with Len’s face on it. So, Bobby’s improved a little in technique and a whole lot in strategy. And hey, it helps him and Sharna earn their highest scores yet.
Judges’ Score: 24/30

Alexis Ren and Alan Bersten
Jive, “Yes” by Merry Clayton
Two revelations come out of Alexis and Alan’s week one jive re-do. First, Bruno and Alan are twins. They both sport the same outfit in rehearsals and use the same exact noises to teach choreography. This should be exploited. The second revelation: Brandon is hilarious and we lost more than we knew when he and Tinashe were eliminated before their time this season. He’s the aerobic class instructor for the routine that America’s Dad Tom Bergeron refers to as “a Jane Fonda workout video styled by Liberace.” Sure the judges love how clean and crisp this routine is, and Alexis has definitely improved since she first performed this style, but the real star here is clearly Brandon.
Judges’ Score: 30/30

Joe Amabile and Jenna Johnson
Quickstep, “Check it Out” by Oh the Larceny
There’s no getting around it, Joe’s week one quickstep was a trainwreck. It’s why Carrie Ann shows up and bestows upon our most famous of Grocery Store Kings a chance to redeem himself. Carrie Ann wants Joe to focus on his breathing and musicality. You can’t hit the beat when you’re not breathing, you know? Well, Joe didn’t and now he does and the improvement is apparent. He seems to be enjoying himself more, he gets through the routine without making any mistakes, and sure his technique is still lacking, but he is trying. That’s all we’ve ever wanted, Joe!
Judges’ Score: 24/30

Juan Pablo Di Pace and Cheryl Burke
Salsa, “Tu Sonrisa” by Elvis Crespo
We are not worthy of the spiciness that Juan Pablo and Cheryl bring to this season. We’re also not worthy of the see-through mesh sparkly shirt that Bruno wears to rehearsal. And we are CERTAINLY not worthy of Cheryl telling us that Bruno is not “full of life” but “full of nipples.” Bless Cheryl Burke and bless this show. The only major thing Juan Pablo needs to improve on in this style is making sure his shoulders are working as hard as his hips. Juan Pablo and Cheryl offer up another classic take on their dance style (their outfits are [insert chef’s kiss here]) and the judges are beside themselves once again.
Judges Score: 30/30

Evanna Lynch and Keo Motsepe
Foxtrot, “Rewrite the Stars” from The Greatest Showman
I mean, I’m still crying over Keo crying but sure, let’s have these two do another emotionally gripping routine. Len is their assigned judge, which is perfect because Len and Keo are BFFs. Remember the kiss? Our head judge assigns the couple a foxtrot — he gave them a 5 the first time around — and wants Evanna to really work on her frame. There’s nowhere to go but up with this dance style. Len and Bruno once again remark on how different Evanna is from who she came into this competition as. Carrie Ann is straight-up moved by the freedom and confidence evident in Evanna’s dancing. Will the crying ever stop?
Judges’ Score: 28/30

Milo Manheim and Witney Carson
Cha Cha, “Good Feeling” by Austin French
Carrie Ann arrives at Milo and Witney’s cha cha rehearsal with the intent to fix Milo’s wonky arms. She wants him to fully use the space and finish his movements — something that’s tough for such a tall person. He and Witney close out the semi-finals with some mixed results. Len appreciates Milo’s “youthful exuberance” but this definitely wasn’t a traditional cha cha, and you know how that goes over. But Bruno is all-in on the cha cha-remix. Unfortunately, Milo’s own judge-coach Carrie Ann thought he still lacked some control over his body. Don’t worry, guys, the scores are great — just not the perfect 30 Team WiLo was probably hoping for.
Judges’ Score: 28/30

If you think the emotional rollercoaster is over now that the semi-final dancing is complete, you are so, so wrong. There are two couples going home just shy of the finals, and with the way voting has been going this season, it honestly could be anyone.

The three couples in jeopardy are: Joe and Jenna, Alexis and Alan, and Juan Pablo and Cheryl. Before you can even let that sink in, the two eliminated couples are: Joe and Jenna and Juan Pablo and Cheryl.

I’m sorry, what?

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